Doc Rivers  called his first practice since bruising his right knee a “tentative” one but Nenad Krstic  was just happy to be back on the court Monday afternoon working out and getting ready for what he believes will be his return tonight against the 76ers at TD Garden.
Of course, it looked a lot worse for Krstic last Thursday night in San Antonio when his knee appeared to buckle in the second quarter.
He came off the court, did not play again that night and immediately went for an MRI the next day.
“I was upset but I knew right away [it wasn’t serious] or anything like that,” Krstic said. “When I was in New Jersey, I had the ACL [tear] and I knew it wasn’t the ACL. I was thinking maybe it was meniscus but obviously, I’m not a doctor. But I was just waiting for the MRI and the day and a half was really long for me.
“I can get through the pain but it’s just still in my head a little bit. Sometimes, I’m afraid to jump or slide [step] or cutting but I’ll be ready. I’ve been through a whole practice. I’ll be fine but we’ll see.”
When the MRI revealed only a bone bruise, he took a deep breath and began getting his mind ready to return to practice within the next week, assuming his knee would allow him.
“Maybe in my head, I’m just trying to still protect it a little bit,” Krstic said. “Mentally, I’m not 100 percent. My knee, I still feel pain but MRI showed it’s nothing really serious so I can get through that pain. I know it’s not going to get serious. Mentally, it’s just the first practice after. It was really tough for me. I was thinking it was more serious when it [happened] but maybe it’s still in my head.”
It was just the latest in a remarkable – almost unbelievable – string of injuries to hit the Celtics ‘ big men.
But for once this season, the Celtics got lucky and Krstic was given the go-ahead by trainer Ed Lacerte to return Monday.
“We’ll wait obviously,” Rivers said of giving the go-ahead to Krstic and Troy Murphy  for tonight. “I thought Nenad was tentative, honestly, but I thought he got through the whole practice and that was great. We’ll see.”
“I was upset because the day after I couldn’t even walk, it was all stiff, but [Monday] it was fine.”
In 18 games since coming to Boston from Oklahoma City in the Kendrick Perkins  trade, Krstic has averaged 9.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in just over 24 minutes a game. Tentative is also the way Rivers has described Krstic as he has struggled at times to learn the Celtics’ system and establish himself in the low post.
Krstic thinks the biggest silver lining to Thursday’s knee scare has been watching from the bench over the last two games.
“It’s very important,” Krstic said of learning time before the playoffs. “Maybe these two games I missed are a good thing. Everything is going to settle down in my head. I was on the side, watching plays and watching how guys play. We’ll see. I have six more games to pick it up. I think I’ll be ready for the playoffs.”